COMIC PROS LOOK BACK ON 2000,
AND LOOK FORWARD TO 2001
So this is January 2. Another year over, a new one just begun.
The new year is traditionally a time for taking stock on the year past and the year to come. Comic professionals share their thoughts with the Comic Wire on what they’ll remember about the year 2000 and what they’re looking forward to in 2001.
SCOTT ALLIE, writer/editor at Dark Horse Comics:
“It was the year Alan Moore literally brought magic to comics with ‘Promethea.'”
“The big thing I’m excited about this coming year is that I’m overseeing the complete reprinting of Kurtzman and Elder’s ‘Little Annie Fanny,’ so in the future people won’t have to plunk down $5 a copy for old Playboys to get the material, like I did. Also looking forward to seeing more trade paperbacks and graphic novels making it into bookstores, pushed by Dark Horse and Oni and other publishers with an eye for BOOKS instead of pamphlets.”
DAN BRERETON, writer/artist:
“It was a year when you heard less and less about the so-called ‘death-knell’ of comics and more about creators saying, ‘to hell with it’ and just doing their thing. I’ll remember 2000 as the year it became clear that the readers really do want more than just the ‘hot’ book of the month — they really want stories, something of
substance and heart.
“It was a year when the Internet loomed as a possible marketplace for the comics medium, and just as quickly, it became apparent that this was going to require more work and effort than it seemed to require. I still think the Flash animation version of the comic is a viable one, but it has to be nurtured more. There was some really outstanding product in this regard, but just as many failed attempts to get some ambitious projects off the ground.
“It was also a year when we finally got a really kick-ass comic book movie in ‘X-Men.’ That can’t be a bad thing!”
“I’m not expecting anything, but I’m going to hope for growth — both for the industry and the product we put out there, and for personal growth as an artist and writer, and as a person. I’m hoping for more legitimacy and support from outside sources in making the masses aware that the Medium of Comics is worthy of their attention. I think if we make enough noise for the right reasons, show what this medium is capable of, if only in terms of flat-out entertainment value, it can happen.
“This has been me, blathering.”
JOE CASEY, writer:
“Truly the last year of the 20th Century. Trends finally dying out and new ones beginning to make themselves known. The year we seemed to learn the most from our collective mistakes.”
“New frontiers, new trends, new approaches (and new mistakes, I’m sure) … and some of comics’ biggest icons being transformed for a new millennium. I should know …”
MATTHEW CLARK, artist:
“I will remember this year in comics by the new friends I met or have corresponded with … to the fans who came up to me at conventions and talked with me, and to the other pros who noticed my work. The excitement at reading the countdown issues of ‘Preacher,’ waiting for ‘Planetary’ and ‘Authority’ and anything Ellis to hit the stands. I will remember the night I heard that my friends Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber won an Eisner for their work on ‘Whiteout.’ I will remember the ComicBookResources.com people coming up to me in San Diego and talking with me, meeting Bill Williams of Lone Star Press, whom I now call a friend. Checking my e-mail and finding there was a message from Warren Ellis (which I still have saved). I will remember the late nights sitting at a local coffee shop in the wee hours with my friends David Hahn and Matt Haley, talking about comics and the industry and looking over each others artwork.”
“What am I expecting … that’s a tough question, all my answers consist more of ‘hoping’ than ‘expecting,’ but I’ll try. I’m expecting small rises in the industry. I’m expecting/hoping more and more creators to grab the bull by the horn and do their own books.”
TOM DeFALCO, writer:
“I think I’ll remember 2000 as a turning point for me and the rest of the comic industry. We both survived the recent turmoil, but it was now time to evolve or die.”
“I’m hoping to see some positive results from the decisions I made in 2000, and I also hope to have a lot more fun! I look forward to the debut of my two new Image books ‘Randy O’Donnell is the M@n’ and ‘Mr. Right,’ and I’m excited about the fun ‘n’ games we have planned for ‘Spider-Girl.'”
EVAN DORKIN, writer/artist:
“2000 saw an amazing amount of quality comics and collections released (and in my opinion, they were mainly from the small press), such as ‘David Boring,’ ‘Acme Novelty Library,’ ‘Safe Area Gorazde,’ ‘Drawn and Quarterly’ vol. 3, the latest ‘Ben Katchor,’ ‘Gemma Bovary,’ a slew of anthologies featuring scores of interesting contributions (‘Comix 2000,’ ‘SPX 2000,’ ‘Blab,’ etc.) , solid (or better) pamphlet releases from stalwarts like the Hernandez Brothers, Paul Grist, Frank Woodring — and in the mainstream fun stuff like ‘Tom Strong’ and various DC Archives (esp. ‘Plastic Man’ vol. 2). And that’s only a few projects off the top of my head, because I don’t have time to check the bookshelves or the unsorted piles of stuff in the basement right now. Even with my shop discount I haven’t been able to keep up with all the decent stuff that’s come out this year, and I can’t recall that happening in any year previously since I’ve had an income. And yeah, there’s still an overwhelming amount of dreck coming out every week, but there were many more diamonds shining through the shit in 2000, some of them as big or bigger than any we’ve seen before. I’ll also remember that despite the art form being in terrific shape, the industry is still in the crapper and most comics fans don’t give a shit about anything
listed above. But that’s pretty much the same every year.”
“Some people will still make comics. Other people will still read them. All of them will complain about the shrinking industry.”
CHRIS ELIOPOULOS, writer/artist/letterer:
This year reminded me of the Civil War. The North had superior numbers but their generals were so inept that they would never press an advantage and not look beyond that day’s battle. We are like that. We had openings to push comics back into the mainstream with blockbuster movies and other mainstream connections in news, online and television but no one is taking advantage. We’re circling the wagons. We had an opportunity to show people what comics can be and we blew it.”
“More of the same unless two things happen. 1) We expand our market beyond specialty stores and get comics to people who otherwise wouldn’t seek them out. And 2) find a way to cut costs — comics cost way too much money now. What made them popular was their low price. People would rather rent a video or video game than buy a comic book for the same price.”
JAY FAERBER, writer:
“That’s a tough one … so many exciting things happened to the comics industry. For me, personally, the high point is a toss-up between being one of the creators on the X-Men movie prequels, and landing ‘Titans,’ an assignment I’ve looked forward to for a long time.”
“This is an easy one: I’m expecting to have loads of fun with my upcoming creator-owned comic! Expect details soon!”
DAN FRAGA, writer/artist:
“I will remember Comics 2000 as a year where creators were trying new ways to excite the reader. Books like ‘Planetary,’ ‘The Authority,’ ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ and ‘Powers,’ to me, really pushed the envelope in comic book story content. They were all new takes on the same ol’ stuff. Closer to home, I’ll remember 2000 as the year where creators pushed the visual envelope as well. I enjoyed seeing the progress of books like ‘JUDGE,’ ‘Red Star’ and my book, ‘the Gear Station,’ and our efforts to push the technology of how comics are made. In a nutshell, 2000 was a year of renaissance. Very exciting stuff.”
“My hopes are that creators continue their efforts to produce some really great stories and that guys like myself would get off our lazy humps and draw more. If I
recall correctly, in modern comics, we were at our peak when we had a monthly dose
of our favorite guys. There was a time when Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld,
Whilce Portacio, Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, John Byrne, Frank Miller and Dale Keown were all on the stands at the same time. It was very exciting each week to know you were getting a handful of your favorite books that visit. Now if I’m lucky, I get two or three books a month. Imagine if books like ‘Battle Chasers,’ ‘Danger Girl,’ ‘Soul Saga,’ ‘Fathom,’ and other popular books by their respective creators came out on a monthly basis. We would definitely see comics move in the upward direction. I hope 2001 is the year where we shake it up and get back on track. I know that this is my plan for 2001.”
KEITH GIFFEN, writer/artist:
“This kinda stuff always gets me in trouble … but having said that —
“The good —
“The year 2000 in comics brought us a resurgent Alan Moore (‘Top 10’ is the best read in comics. Oddly enough, ‘Tom Strong’ is among the worst) and hope for the tired super-hero genre in books like ‘The Authority’ and ‘Planetary.’
“Kinda slim on the good side, I know, but at this point I’ll take slim hope over the past few year’s no hope at all.
“The bad —
“The continued decline of the field as a whole and the major companies inability to reverse it. A lot of the blame has to fall with the companies, especially when one considers that both DC and Marvel (Wildstorm not included here) disdain any new characters in favor of retreads of failed concepts/characters. Understandable only if one factors in the retailers’ tendency to kill new books before the books have a chance to perform (still smarting from the screwing they took during the bubble market of the early ’90s would be my guess).
“There was a lovely rant published on the Web by a freelancer whose name, unfortunately, escapes me, wherein the comic book industry was compared to all
that was bad about high school. The year 2000 proved that all too true.”
“God help us. I don’t see any major creative changes heading our way any time soon. More cosmetics applied to an industry that needs radical plastic surgery would be my guess.
“Quesada could be the best hope the industry has, if he’s allowed to implement some of the changes he’s talked about. Not to put too much pressure on Joe …
“God … I want desperately to end on an up note here …
“Screw it. It is what it is.”
MATT HALEY, artist:
“I would say that the year 2000 has been a really awful year for the comics industry, although these days it’s small enough to be called a ‘club.’ I’m not speaking about the low sales figures, or the sheer number of freelancers moving to Florida or leaving comics entirely, no, I’m talking about the content of the comics we produce …
“‘Planetary’ and ‘Preacher’ are the only two comics I read with any regularity, mainly because when I read them, I’m entertained and I don’t feel ashamed to be reading them.”
“As for the New Year, I look forward to creators realizing that with the ‘state of the industry’ (a term we hear a LOT of these days), they have nothing left to lose, and with that, deciding to write and draw the comics they really WANT to do, instead of trying to anticipate what the major publishers will ‘let’ them. If we all just do the comics we WANT to do, and do them well, the major publishers will publish them, because people will BUY them.”
JAMAL IGLE, artist:
“2000 will always go down as a year of massive changes in the industry. I’ve seen a number of friends either leave the industry of their own volition or fired because of changes within the big companies. A move that probably shocked me most was Joe Quesada’s ascension to editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, I never saw that coming.”
“I don’t know what to expect at this point. My hope is that more companies will realize that the idea of monthly comics is dead. The future of our survival will be graphic novels and trades. I’m sticking around for the long haul, regardless. I also hope that what Marvel is planning for the spring works out for them. I also hope that independent comics get a lot more notice than they have in the past.”
PHIL JIMENEZ, writer/artist:
“I remember being assigned the art chores on ‘Wonder Woman,’ a dream job since I was a teenager.
“And I remember ‘Planetary,’ the best mainstream book out there, in my opinion.”
“For 2001 — a few big events in Wonder Woman that are going to thrill fans, or make them scream in rage!”
DAN JOLLEY, writer:
“As far as the industry as a whole is concerned, probably what I’ll remember most is the replacement of Bob Harras with Joe Quesada as EIC at Marvel. I think that made people across the board stop and think for a minute.”
“I hate trying to make predictions. What I’m HOPING for is a sense of revitalization, a universal editorial willingness to do something besides exactly what’s already being done.”
STEVE LIEBER, artist:
“Speaking as a creator, the year was filled with relentless self-promotion, punctuated by short bursts of actual creative work. Winning the Eisner for ‘Whiteout’ at San Diego was wonderful and strange, as was returning to full-color comics at the larger publishers.
“As a reader, this was probably the best year for comics ever, with works like ‘Safe Area Gorazde,’ ‘Jimmy Corrigan,’ ‘Julius Knipl: The Beauty Supply District,’ ‘Drawn and Quarterly’ and ‘The Greatest of Marlys.'”
“To do as much drawing as possible. I’m looking forward to collaborating with Warren Ellis on an original graphic novel called ‘Morning Dragons’ to be published by Image. Jim Ottaviani has a new science-themed anthology coming, to which I’ll be contributing a chapter. And I’ll be working with Sara Ryan, my wife, on a couple of stories for various venues.”
JEPH LOEB, writer:
“Joe Quesada waking Marvel up from a coma. 2001 should be a very exciting year at Marvel which will drive the rest of the industry (being the competitive kooks they are) to new heights!”
“Joe Casey waking ‘Adventures of Superman’ (along with Mike Wieringo) up from a coma. No time to sleep in late in 2001, there’ll be just too much stuff to do!”
JEFF MOY, artist:
“No work and no fun for me.”
“Hopefully a lot more than this year. I’m working on my own title and I’m shooting for a late spring release. Maybe summer.”
JIMMY PALMIOTTI, writer/inker:
“For me personally, I will remember it as the year I finally stopped talking about what I wanted to do and started doing it.”
“Hopefully for the big two companies to try to expand the range of formats and help the perception of this lost art form.”
JOE QUESADA, writer/artist/publisher/editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics:
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I’m expecting an overall improvement in the quality of the Marvel line. We’re making every effort to get back to the place that made us #1. Put the top talent on the top books. Hopefully we’ll make some inroads to improving our distribution problems. I’m fairly confident that if we can get the books into the hands of new readers that the product will be ready and accessible for them!”
ROGER STERN, writer:
“2000 … oh, yeah … that was the year I wound up writing four miniseries … three of them at the same time.”
“I’m not expecting anything … but I’m hoping to find work in comics. If I can’t, I’ll look elsewhere.”
TIM TRUMAN, writer/artist:
“What will I remember: that the market for non-superhero (or at least non-Spandex) material bottlenecked as tight as Dick Cheney’s arteries. For someone who’s become known mainly for creating and enjoying stuff like ‘Grimjack,’ ‘Scout,’ ‘Wilderness,’ ‘Tecumseh!,’ ‘Jonah Hex,’ and such SF and historical adventure-oriented material, this is quite distressing. Personally, I’m quite enjoying the JLA prestige series that I’m working on now (for 2001 release), especially given the fantasy and mythological elements that I’ve been able to thrown into it. But, as a creator with a broad palette of themes that I like to explore, I feel that, as an avenue for personal expression and storytelling, comics is becoming quite barren and inhospitable, insofar as mass market comics goes. Right now, I feel that I’m lucky to have solid, ongoing work in the field but have many friends who don’t. Regretfully, I very much fear that comics will soon have to become a sideline for even myself, rather than a main source of family income. The writing on the wall is pretty clear.”
“The upside of the above: If I do comics as a ‘second job,’ then I’ll be totally free to commit to paper only works that I feel totally, absolutely passionate about, with no care for subject matter. A directly marketed, signed and numbered, limited edition, large format, WEB-order-only ‘Scout’ graphic novel? A leather-bound, hardcover graphic novel featuring a new ‘Grimjack’ adventure, available only via mail or WEB order and at select comic shops? A new frontier biography on the scale of my ‘Wilderness’ (a book which went through four printings mainly OUTSIDE the comics market, and proved to me that it could be done!)? Can Alcantena and I finally be given the excuse to do that ‘Hiawatha’ graphic novel that we’ve been talking about, and offer it to fans via a Web site? A collection of my Grateful Dead Almanac pages, T-shirt designs, and various other rock art pieces that I’ve done? Sometimes one needs a kick in the butt to get them to realize certain ideas.
“In any case, it will be a very interesting year!”
LARRY YOUNG, writer/publisher:
“I’ll remember 2000 as The Year It All Broke Open. There were more cool comics coming out last year than any other since 1986, which saw ‘Watchmen,’ [‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,’] and ‘Elektra: Assassin.’
“Think about it; it’s critical mass out there. ‘Planetary’ came into its own; ‘From Hell’ and ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ made Victorians cool; ‘Channel Zero’ rises from the ashes to start its own guerrilla media revolution; trade paperbacks and original graphic novels become the preferred delivery mechanism for comic book entertainment; and mainstream pop culture pundits finally take note of the quality work being produced in comic books.”
“I expect comic books to be revered as a legitimate form of artistic expression, or I expect the entire industry to dry up and blow away, forgotten by all except a small band of brainy hipsters. This year is not the time for half-measures; it’s the year to stand up and be counted.
“2001: The Year We Do Or Do Not.”
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